Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Practice Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Gratitude

 Practice Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Gratitude by Dennis Liegghio (excerpt from Building a Foundation for Happiness )


A great deal of my anger, disappointment, frustration and despair came from unmet expectations… expectations that I was holding onto of myself, of others and of life. I spent many years wasting my energy wishing that people, and life in general was different. Unrealistic and unmet expectations are counterproductive to finding peace and balance and happiness. I was constantly miserable, ungrateful and dissatisfied.

Change is necessary, constant and unavoidable. Nothing stays the same. What is “fair” or “just” or “right” does not exist – only what “is”. We have no control over other people’s beliefs, actions or behaviors – people aren’t what we think or wish they “should” be – they simply “are”.
Acceptance is achieved by letting go of our expectations and planting ourselves firmly in what “is” – for that is reality, the only thing that matters. Focusing on anything else is a waste of time, energy and health and it really is as simple as that. The next time you find yourself getting angry or frustrated about something you simply can’t do anything about, calmly remind yourself to focus on what you can control (your reaction) and let go what you cannot (everything else).

“Happiness equals reality minus expectations.” – Tom Magliozzi


Mindfulness is about being in the moment – not dwelling on the past, not worrying about the future, simply being where you are right now and experiencing only that. Practicing and cultivating mindfulness relieved a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in my life. I lived in a constant state of worry, frustration and panic and I didn’t even know it.

When I first started learning about mindfulness, my first step was to simply notice when I started getting into these obsessive thought cycles (about work, about whoever I was dating, about what had to get done, or what I should have said, or what this person thought of me… are they mad at me? Did I piss them off somehow? Oh my god, I have so much work to do tomorrow, I’m never going to get everything done. On and on and on and on!)

So I learned to take notice of this, and interrupt myself. I would touch something nearby (a wall, a piece of furniture, etc.) and take three very deep breaths. Breathe in, hold for a few seconds, and breathe out. It was a 30 second break to remind myself that wherever I was, whatever I was doing – it was the only thing that I could be doing, the only thing that mattered. I practiced and repeated this simple exercise whenever and wherever I could: taking a shower, shaving, brushing my teeth, driving, writing, playing my guitar, walking, spending time with someone. After a month or two (of daily practice), it became habit.

Soon enough, it seemed almost anything that I was doing could be seen as an opportunity to practice being present. Walking, washing dishes, cleaning the house, writing a song, driving. I found so many opportunities to practice mindfulness in my daily routines and it helped me to become more patient, kind and focused. You can only exist in this moment. Practice being fully present in whatever it is that you are doing.


In my darkest times, I was focused solely on everything that I wanted or needed or didn’t have. I focused on how successful or happy others were (in my eyes) and wasted all my time wishing my life or house or family was more like theirs. It was an endless cycle of negativity and wanting – nothing was ever good enough. It’s easy to get stuck in a thought pattern of what we wish we had, or to focus on what other’s have that we don’t – but it’s pointless and insignificant to live by comparison when the reality is that we have so much to be grateful for everyday.

What we need to survive is a very short list: air, food, water, shelter, and human connection. Everything else is a want, a luxury, a gift – and these gifts should be reflected on and appreciated. As I learned to practice gratitude, on a daily basis, for everything and everyone that I had in my life, what was missing became insignificant.

Take some time each morning when you rise and each night before going to sleep to reflect on the gifts in your life. Even in my darkest hours there were people, experiences and gifts each day that I could be grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal, take lots of pictures, create photo albums – reminders of who and what you are thankful for and surround yourself with these things.

Yes, there are hard times – financial hardships, job losses, breakups, accidents, injuries, sicknesses, challenges, obstacles, uncertainties and minor everyday irritations. We all face this stuff throughout our lives, and nobody’s life is perfect or without struggle (no matter how perfect you think it is). There are ups and downs, sometimes we have less, sometimes we have more – but there are things to be grateful for in our lives everyday and THAT is what we need to shift our focus to. Once you learn how to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” you’ll find that the grass is green on your side too.

Building a Foundation for Happiness
by Dennis Liegghio

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melodie Beattie

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. ~Denis Waitley

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give Thanks at All Times - Good and Bad

It is really easy to be thankful when things are going well. But how do we stay thankful when they are not? It may be difficult, but practicing gratitude at all times is one of the best ways to make it through setbacks and disappointments. It keeps us hopeful and reminds us that we made it through hard times before. It helps us to see that life is still good. Circumstances may be negative, but they can change. People may hurt us, but we can heal. Losses may never be recovered, but we can gain something new. The more we practice gratitude for what is good, right, beautiful and hopeful, the more real it becomes to us. So whether we are going through some bad times or the best of times, it is always appropriate and empowering to be thankful.

Following is a poem that helps remind us why we can be thankful at all times.

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful in the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful when you have limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful during the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful in the midst of your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author unknown.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~Melody Beattie

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. ~Rabbi Harold Kushner

A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even if he lives in paradise. ~Baha’u’llah

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

Find the good and praise it. ~Alex Haley

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot. ~Hausa of Nigeria

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. ~Gerald Good

Copyright © 2010 Krystal Kuehn, New Day Counseling Services. All Rights Reserved.

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a licensed professional counselor, author, teacher, and musician. She specializes in helping people live their best life now, reach their full potential, overcome barriers, heal from their past, and develop a lifestyle of health, happiness, and love. Krystal is the cofounder of, a relationship counseling, family counseling center, specializing in helping individuals, couples and families with professional counseling services for relationship problems, parenting issues, depression, anxiety as well a s substance abuse DUI classes, anger management groups, and more. Krystal is also cofounder of, , as well as and several blogs.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slow Down

Slow Down by Dennis Liegghio (excerpt from Building a Foundation for Happiness )

We often generate unnecessary worry, stress and anxiety for ourselves. We can reduce our level of stress, worry and anxiety by learning how to slow down. You don’t NEED to be constantly “connected” (cell phones, email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) The age of information has become the age of distraction and we are stressing ourselves out. We are constantly bombarded by the information and distractions that we have available at our fingertips (along with a ridiculous amount of advertising for things that we don’t need) and it has trashed our attention spans. Life offers so many moments of joy and wonder, but if you are moving too fast, you’ll never notice them.

Give yourself some time away from these distractions – shut off your phone an hour or two before going to bed, wait until you’ve gotten ready before turning it back on in the morning. Check your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. at certain times throughout the day and then log off. Leave your cell phone behind (or at least on silent) when you are eating, or visiting with someone. When you are driving around in a vehicle that can take your life, or the lives of others at a moments notice, you do not need to be talking on your cell phone or texting someone or updating your Facebook status. Believe me, whatever it is, it can wait until you are where you need to be, safe and sound.

You are only capable of doing one thing at a time, so set your priorities and focus on doing ONE thing at a time. Multi-tasking and rushing around only leads to stress and mistakes. You may think you’re being more efficient, but you end up creating more headaches for yourself.

You can practice slowing down in almost any moment. When you are showering, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, etc., try to focus solely on that experience. This takes time and practice, and you will be shocked at how often your brain automatically leads you into other thoughts about the past and the future, but realize when that is happening, and gently bring yourself back to concentrating only on the task at hand.

Suggestions for Slowing Down:

Building a Foundation for Happiness
by Dennis Liegghio

At the root of much worry is the issue of control. When we feel out of control, we worry. When events are beyond our control, we worry. Like it or not, however, much of life remains beyond our control. It takes a lot of energy to try to control the uncontrollable. There is another way--if we can learn to embrace uncertainty, we will be able to live in peace, even in the midst of great uncertainty.~ Daniel Grippo

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    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    8 Simple Ways to Be Your Best

    If we stop to think about it, there are so many things to be grateful for. As I was reflecting on all the good things, people, and blessings I enjoy, I starting compiling a long list. It seemed it would never end. In all actually, it never will end because our blessings are new every morning. In this article, I share eight simple ways to be your best.  I believe we can all be grateful for the opportunities we have and the freedom we have to choose to be our best every day.   

    1. We can be free from negativity.
    A while back I decided that I was going to stay away from as many negative influences as I possibly could. I ended some unhealthy relationships in the process. I realized that being around critical, negative people was not only unpleasant, but it rubbed off on me. Being around more optimistic, hopeful people surrounded me with a positive influence that was energizing and motivating. I can minimize negative influences in my life by making better choices in what I watch and read as well. Good and wholesome, edifying and positive influences help to keep my mind and emotions healthy.

    2. We can have peace in my minds and hearts.

    Fear, worry, anxiety and depression…They all rob me of inner peace. Whenever I get overwhelmed with stress and its negative effects, I immediately take a time out. I know how discouragement can keep us down if we let it. It leads to self-pity and ultimately to defeat and despair. Years of experience have taught me that bad times don’t last forever. Things that seem so pressing right now are not as important as I make them to be in the big scheme of things. I remind myself: this too shall pass. I slow myself down. I recall the source of my help and the many times I have overcome in the past. I draw on my inner strengths and trust in God to help me. As busyness and distractions subside, I begin to see things from a more realistic and hopeful perspective. I become free of things that once bound me and shook my confidence, threatened my security, and dimmed my hope. I have new courage to take necessary steps for change. I gain wisdom and learn to accept what is not in my control. Peace returns to my mind and heart.

    3. We can learn from our mistakes.

    When I make mistakes or say and do things I later regret, I found that I end up with two choices. I can either entertain feelings of guilt, regret, anger, blame, or I can take responsibility, apologize if necessary, and learn from my mistakes and regrets. Beating myself up over something doesn’t really teach me a lesson. It just makes me more upset and frustrated with myself. Realizing this has taught me the importance of forgiving myself and accepting that I am not perfect, no one is. I can extend the same grace to myself as I do to others when they miss it. I don’t want to punish them by constantly reminding them of their mistakes. Nor do I want to reject them for their human weaknesses and imperfections. In the same way, I will not punish myself by holding on to guilt, anger, and regret. I believe we can become better if we will learn from our mistakes and regrets, know when to let them go, and come out better as a result.

    4. We can learn to appreciate and like who we are.

    It’s not easy to love others when we do not love ourselves. Once I realized the importance of this simple truth, I decided to stop complaining about the things I didn’t like about who I am. Instead, I started to change the things I could and accept the things I could not change. As a result, I was more able to appreciate myself and my unique God-given gifts and talents. The more I did this, the more I noticed and received the appreciation and love I got from others. My desire to be my best really began to flourish and bring much joy to me. It was simply accepting and liking myself that enabled me to love and bless others with all that I am.

    5. We can have control over our thoughts.

    I can choose what I want to think about. Negative thoughts cannot stay if I do not allow them to. It seems the more we focus on something that is bothersome to us, the more if affects our mood and overall outlook. For this reason, I do not spend too much time thinking about life’s disappointments and losses. Instead, I think about how to overcome them and I recall past victories. I have control over my thoughts and I can focus on things that build my faith, make me strong and hopeful, and encourage me. Sometimes I need to remind myself that my thought life is in my control. No one can put thoughts in my mind that I have to receive. I can decide what will stay and what will go. Although I may not be able to control how I feel, I can control what I choose to think and dwell upon and what I choose to do.

    6. We can choose to forgive and be free.

    There is no prison like that of unforgiveness. It keeps us bound to bitterness, resentment, and unhappiness. It hurts us more than it hurts anyone else. For this reason, forgiving is more a benefit to us than it is to the person(s) who hurt us. I have learned that if my willingness to forgive is contingent on apologies or justice, it may never happen. I have to do it for me. It is not easy. Actually, it can be the most difficult thing we ever do for ourselves. Forgiving is a process. It begins with a decision to release whoever or whatever it is we are holding on to. I do this believing that people reap what they sow. You can’t sow thistles and expect to reap daffodils. When people sow deceit, gossip, greediness, selfishness, and so on, they reap its fruit. When I choose to sow forgiveness, I reap peace and freedom. I am thankful that my mind and emotions can heal when I forgive.

    7. We can know and experience love.

    I believe God is love and when we receive His amazing love, it works miracles in our lives. I once said: The power of love is amazing and never-ending. It can motivate, energize, inspire, and strengthen. Love can do in a person what nothing else can do. Love has the power to revive and change lives, restore relationships, and bring healing. All else may fail, but love never fails. When you think about it, most of the love we know and experience has to do with relationships. That is why I do a great deal of writing on the topic (The 10 Keys to Happy and Loving Relationships). Love is the foundation of healthy and successful relationships. Love is what we live for. I am thankful for the experience of giving and receiving love.

    8. We can live a lifestyle of true and lasting joy

    True and lasting happiness is not something we can pursue as much as it is a lifestyle we live. I have learned that our lives are made up of many habits. Some are good and some are bad. It all shapes who we are and contributes to our well-being and happiness. When we make a deliberate effort to be our best, we find we have to change some things. Since I came to this conclusion, I began to replace some old and bad habits with new and healthy ones. I practiced seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. I practiced patience to keep myself from acting on impulse. I allowed myself to make mistakes rather than be driven by perfection. I learned to relax and be at peace rather than become worried and anxious. It takes determination, self-discipline, and lots of practice to break old habits and establish new ones. Changing and improving our lifestyle is actually shaping our character and becoming our best. I want to fulfill my potential and I realize that the only way to do so is to live a lifestyle of health, happiness, and love. I am thankful that this is possible and I have all the tools I need to be all that I am destined to be. (for more info see The 9 Habits of Happy People)

    Far from being exhaustive, the above list is just a start to the many reasons I am thankful for the opportunities I have to be my best. In making this list, I am reminded of the very active role I need to take in maintaining good mental health. This list also helped me to identify the many things I can do to keep mentally and emotionally healthy.  How can you be your best every day?  I encourage you to add your own ideas and experiences to this list and be your best every day!

    Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved. Written by Krystal Kuehn. &

    Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. ~Doug Firebaugh
    Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb

    Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

    Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a licensed professional counselor, author, teacher, and musician. She specializes in helping people live their best life now, reach their full potential, overcome barriers, heal from their past, and develop a lifestyle of health, happiness, and love. Krystal is the cofounder of, a relationship counseling, family counseling center, specializing in helping individuals, couples and families with professional counseling services for relationship problems, parenting issues, depression, anxiety as well a s substance abuse classes, anger management groups, and more. Krystal is also cofounder of and as well as and several blogs.

    New Day Counseling is a marriage family counseling center that provides professional counseling services for the entire family. We help parents, children, teens, families, individuals and couples. We offer relationship counseling, couples counseling / marriage therapy, child therapy, adolescent counseling, anxiety counseling, depression counseling, divorce counseling, grief counseling, porn addiction counseling, substance abuse counseling. We also offer groups for anger counseling. Go to today for more information or call us at 248-649-8050. We are here to help, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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